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Madison is a beautiful historic town on the Ohio River in Indianapolis. There are many beautiful historic buildings and  landmarks to explore including the Francis Costigan House, and Madison Railroad Station. Outdoor lovers will enjoy a visit to the Clifty Falls State Park which features, waterfalls, rock gorges, and lush green scenic overlooks.


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Overview

Introduction

Madison, Indiana, has been recognized as one of the prettiest and best-preserved small towns in the Midwest. It boasts the largest historic district in Indiana with more than 133 blocks on the National Register of Historic Places.

Time seems to have stood still in Madison, but the times have not. The city by the river hosts annual festivals in honor of everything from art and artists to bluegrass and barbecue.

The "Nights Before Christmas" home tour is famous nationwide, as is the Madison Regatta.

Overview

Introduction

Thanks to a gentleman's agreement between Gen. Sherman and a local politician, the city of Madison was not burned to the ground by Sherman's army.

Most of the historic homes are on the main road (Highway 441) as you drive into town. In general, the homes are private and can't be toured, but their exteriors are something to behold. Two home tours are offered each year, usually in May and December. Check with the state's tourism bureau for dates. You can visit Heritage Hall, an 1811 Greek Revival home that now houses the County Historical Society.

Another site to tour is the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center. This historical museum occupies an 1895 building that was one of the first graded schools in the South. The original students called the school a castle, and it must have seemed so to children who had attended one-room school houses.

Madison also hosts a well-regarded theater festival each August.

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If you love Shakespeare, you'll love Madison—it's the home of the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, one of the nation's best Shakespeare repertory theaters. The Playwright's Theater of New Jersey is in Madison, too, and in nearby Millburn, the Paper Mill Playhouse has staged plays and musicals in an 18th-century paper mill since 1938.

Madison also boasts three universities: Drew, Fairleigh Dickinson and the College of Elizabeth Seton. The Museum of Early Trades and Crafts takes visitors back to pre-industrial New Jersey with its collections of tools and products of an age gone by. Madison is 18 mi/29 km from Newark.

Overview

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Madison, Wisconsin's, secret is out: Consistently ranked by national magazines as one of the best places to live in the U.S. And Madison's population is growing more than twice as fast as the rest of the state. Some of the new folks are drawn to the city's beautiful natural setting—an isthmus separating two glacial lakes that are surrounded by rolling hills. It's a great area for bicycling, cross-country skiing and other outdoor activities.

Others go to Madison to attend the University of Wisconsin and never leave, taking jobs as researchers or even taxi drivers just to remain in town (don't be surprised if your cabdriver has a degree). They stay because they enjoy the city's progressive attitude, fueled by the university but endorsed by many of the politicos who work just east of campus in the state Capitol. Madison is, after all, the city that produced reformist governor "Fighting" Bob LaFollette and calls itself "Madtown," a nod to its lively character. No wonder longtime residents refer to their city—with obvious affection—as "78 square miles surrounded by reality."

Even residents who don't share Madison's left-of-center politics have plenty of reasons to like their locale: Madison boasts a low unemployment rate, growing high-tech and biotech sectors, good schools and services, lots of cultural activities and housing that rapidly appreciates.

Must See or Do

Sights—The Farmers Market on a summer Saturday morning; the state Capitol; a free classical music concert at Capitol Square in the summer; the rooftop garden of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Monona Terrace Convention Center overlooking Lake Monona.

Museums—The extensive print collection at the Chazen (formerly Elvehjem) Museum of Art; regional art and dioramas at the State Historical Museum; stories of soldiers from the Civil War to the present at the Wisconsin Veterans Museum.

Memorable Meals—Dishes made with fresh, local ingredients at L'Etoile or Harvest on Capitol Square; inspired omelettes and other homemade delicacies at Marigold Kitchen; a Friday fish-fry lunch at the Orpheum Lobby Restaurant, a renovated 1920s movie palace on State Street.

Late Night—A glass of wine at Cafe Montmartre; roots rock and homemade potato chips at Harmony Bar; a martini at the Opus Lounge or any of the trendy bars and restaurants on King Street.

Walks—The path around Lake Monona; a hike up to Observatory Hill for a stellar view of Lake Mendota; a stroll through the wetlands and woods of the University of Wisconsin Arboretum.

Especially for Kids—The primate house at the Henry Vilas Zoo; interactive art exhibits at the Madison Children's Museum; dinosaur bones and a rotating globe at the University of Wisconsin Geology Museum.

Geography

The heart of Madison is built on an isthmus that divides lakes Mendota and Monona. From the state Capitol, which is surrounded by a huge plaza called Capitol Square, several major streets radiate outward like spokes on a wheel. One of those, State Street, is closed to most vehicle traffic—its six blocks are a pedestrian paradise with shops, museums, street entertainment, bars and restaurants. State Street merges with the University of Wisconsin's Library Mall at its western end.

The university occupies much of the isthmus west of Capitol Square, and new retail and residential development continually stretch the city to the east and west. Mansion Hill is a historic neighborhood of grand limestone houses north of the Square near Lake Mendota. The ultraprogressive Marquette neighborhood is east of the Square.

History

The Native American people who lived and hunted in the lakes and forests around Madison for thousands of years left behind one of the world's largest collections of effigy mounds, many of which survive. By the 1830s, however, most Native Americans had either left the area or been forced out by the U.S. government, clearing the way for fur traders and lead miners to settle the isthmus.

Madison's stature grew considerably in 1836 when a crafty real-estate developer named James Doty persuaded lawmakers to make Madison the permanent capital of Wisconsin. A dozen years later, Madison was chosen again, this time as the home of the state university.

In the ensuing 150 years, government and academia have largely defined Madison, though the relationship between the two has occasionally been antagonistic. The University of Wisconsin was a breeding ground for opponents of the Vietnam War, whose ire culminated in the 1970 bombing of the Army Math Research Center on campus, killing a researcher. Yet an antiwar activist from that period, Paul Soglin, eventually became one of Madison's most productive (and controversial) mayors.

Today, government and university personnel share the city with high-tech workers, who have brought another distinct attitude to this dynamic city. The already-vibrant State Street corridor is in the beginning of an upscale overhaul. The Overture Center, Madison's eight-venue, state-of-the-art performing- and visual-arts complex, has been State Street's crown jewel since it opened.

Potpourri

Madison is the birthplace of The Onion, the farcical newspaper and Web site that skewers national politics and pop culture, with such articles as "World's Scientists Admit They Just Don't Like Mice" and "Nation's Dog Owners Demand to Know Who's a Good Boy." From its humble 1988 beginnings as a smudgy college tabloid, The Onion has grown into an offbeat-humor empire with a circulation reaching Chicago, New York and other cities, several best-selling compilation books and a wildly popular Web site (http://www.theonion.com).

Wisconsin is known as the "Badger State," nicknamed after the badger holes, or crude shelters, dug by early miners.

Forest Hill Cemetery, on Madison's near west side, is said to be the northernmost Confederate burial ground in the U.S. It's the final resting place for 140 Confederate prisoners who had been housed at Madison's Camp Randall. A Confederate flag was hoisted there every Memorial Day and Confederate Memorial Day (April 28), until city leaders outlawed the practice in 2001. Forest Hill Cemetery is also the site of several Native American effigy burial mounds.

One of Madison's best-known natives is the late actor-comedian Chris Farley, who was a cast member on Saturday Night Live. Actress Tyne Daley and Olympic speed skater Eric Heiden were also born in Madison.

Madison is home to the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile—the current model includes a GPS navigational system, removable "bun" roof and six mustard- and ketchup-colored seats.

Those looking to spice up their wieners need travel no farther than Mount Horeb, 20 mi/32 km southwest of Madison, to visit the famous Mount Horeb Mustard Museum. Tourists from all over the globe flock to view the 4,400-plus jar collection that has been featured by major press outlets worldwide.


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